Daily Kickoff: Boehner invites Bibi to speak to Congress on Iran on Feb 11th | Blinken & Cohen testifying now on Iran | Moline to Interfaith Alliance

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OVERNIGHT: “13 stabbed in terror attack on Tel Aviv bus; 4 badly hurt: A Palestinian terrorist armed with a knife stabbed 13 people during rush hour on Wednesday morning in a terror attack on a bus in central Tel Aviv. Four of the victims were badly hurt in the attack. At roughly 7:15 am, Hamza Muhammed Hassan Matrouk, a 22-year-old from the West Bank town of Tul Karem, boarded Dan bus number 40 on Begin Road in Tel Aviv, close to Beit Maariv Bridge, and stabbed the driver and more than a dozen passengers before fleeing the scene. He was quickly tracked down by Israel Prison Service officers present in the area, shot and apprehended.” [YNet] • “Dramatic video of Tel Aviv terrorist pursuing victims as he flees bus [JPost]

BREAKING: Boehner invites Netanyahu to speak to Congress: “Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about Iran next month, a move sure to inflame the Obama administration, which is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to a deal with Iran, and has been very vocal that the United States is making a mistake in negotiating with the nation. In many ways, he’s served as President Barack Obama’s foil as negotiations have progressed. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, is setting up a major confrontation with the Obama administration one day after the State of the Union – a move that is sure to put him in good graces with his House Republican Conference. Boehner has invited Netanyahu to address Congress for a third time Feb. 11.”

“You may have seen that on Friday, the president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror,” Boehner said in a meeting of Republicans Wednesday morning. “His exact message to us was: “Hold your fire.” He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: “Hell no!” … We’re going to do no such thing. “I am specifically asking him to address Congress on the threats posed by radical Islam and Iran,” Boehner said in the meeting. “America and Israel have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again. Let’s send a clear message to the White House – and the world – about our commitment to Israel and our allies.” [PoliticoPress Release]

HAPPENING TODAY: Deputy Secretary of State Antony BlinkenUndersecretary of State David Cohen, and others testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on proposals to impose new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Watch Now [C-Span]

SOTU: “Bold Call to Action in Obama’s State of the Union, Even if No Action Is Likely” by Peter Baker: “Near the end of his State of the Union address, President Obama noted, “I have no more campaigns to run.” A few Republicans in the audience cheekily applauded. Mr. Obama smiled but then offered an ad-lib retort: “I know,” he jabbed the Republicans, “because I won both of them.” Never mind that his party actually lost the most recent elections, delivering control of both houses of Congress to the opposition for the first time during his presidency. For an hour on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama commanded the biggest stage he will have all year, unbowed and self-assured, laying out an expansive and expensive legislative agenda as if he were the one who had triumphed.” [NYTimes]

—Jewish Insider was at the White House’s #SOTUsocial event last night where we watched the State of the Union from the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. When told about the Daily Kickoff, White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer replied that he’d probably “enjoy the Jewish version of Playbook better than the original.” We also asked Pfeiffer about Sen. Schumer’s comments to CNN, after the SOTU, regarding the President asking congressional leadership to delay a vote on Iran sanctions until March which Schumer said is “something Democrats and Republicans are exploring.” Pfeiffer told us that he knows the President talked about waiting until the Spring but he’s not aware of any specific month or time at this point but keep posted.

SOTU QUOTES — ALAN GROSS: “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new… And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.”

IRAN TALKS: “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.”

“There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”

ANTI-SEMITISM: “As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.” [Full Transcript]

Conspicuously Missing: Israel – Palestinian Peace. As Chemi Shalev points outs “Obama’s comments on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks reflect their current state as well as his view of prospects for the future (Nada)” [Twitter]

Twitter Debate: After the State of the Union, Jarrod Bernstein, former Obama White House Jewish liaison, and New York City Councilman David Greenfield debated Iran sanctions timeline [Twitter]

Top Tweet: NBC’s Richard Engel – “president talking about stopping isis..and successes in iraq andafghanistannot what it looks like where i spend my days” [Twitter] • “McCain, Graham rip Obama’s foreign policy” [TheHill]

REACTIONS: Federations’ William Daroff – “The tax proposal put forth by the President tonight recognizes the incentives for charitable giving that are inherent in making donations fully tax deductible”Michael Siegal: “Alan Gross’ freedom from captivity in Cuba at the start of Chanukah remains a miracle. The Jewish community is grateful to President Obama and his Administration for bringing Alan home, and for inviting the Gross Family to Capitol Hill tonight as honored guests of Mrs. Obama.” JCPA’s Susan Turnbull & Rabbi Steve Gutow: “This evening, having heard President Obama’s vision for America’s future, we are eager to continue working with the Administration and Congress on the priorities of the American Jewish community.”

TRANSISTIONS: “Rabbi Jack Moline Named Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance: Interfaith Alliance announced today that Rabbi Jack Moline has been named as the executive director of Interfaith Alliance effective immediately. Rabbi Moline assumes this position following the retirement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. A past member of Interfaith Alliance’s board of directors, Rabbi Moline served as its chair from 2006 until 2008. Rabbi Moline will oversee all aspects of the organization’s work and serve as its primary spokesperson. Moline will initially serve in the post on an interim basis, as the board considers all options for the leadership of Interfaith Alliance.” [Statement;DeseretNews]

—Rabbi Moline told Jewish Insider, at the White House SOTU Social event last night, that he hopes his appointment will help raise awareness of the Interfaith Alliance within the Jewish community while still maintaining the strong work that his predecessor has done in other communities. Asked about what role Israel or other foreign policy issues take within the Alliance, Moline responded that he has led the group that has pushed for the Alliance to focus exclusively on domestic issues. The rare exception being a foreign policy issue or event, such as the recent terror attacks in Paris, that affects domestic policy. “If a foreign policy issue such as Israel was on the agenda, the Alliance would cease to exist,” Moline said.

IRAN TALKS: “GOP delays Iran sanctions vote for State of the Union” by Julian Pecquet:“Republicans say they delayed an initial vote on Iran sanctions this week as a sop to Democrats but promised to move full-steam-ahead next week… The Banking Committee had been scheduled to hold a hearing on sanctions Jan. 20 and a markup on Jan. 22, but announced a weeklong delay. Panel member and bill co-author Mark KirkR-Ill., said the panel agreed to delay action until after President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address to Congress Jan. 20. “The Democrats didn’t want us competing with the president for attention,” Kirk told Al-Monitor. “And that seemed reasonable.”[AlMonitor] • “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion Through End of Nuke Talks” [FreeBeacon] • Jeff Robbins: “The need to stand firm on Iran” [ToI] • “Iran says is ready for ‘straight talks’ with Saudi Arabia” [Reuters]

TOP-OP: “Say It Like It Is” by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times: “I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this? When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.”[NYTimes]

**Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

2016 WATCH: “For Jewish Republican donors mulling 2016, it’s electability, stupid” by Dmitry Shapiro: “Whereas in the past, a donor’s closeness to a particular candidate or his embrace of a favored policy may have been key, Jewish Republicans said, the main goals now are defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton, seen as the likely Democratic nominee, and reversing course on Obama’s Israel policy.”[WJW]

“Pro Israel group responds to ads with its own billboards: Pro-Israel groups are responding to what they call anti-Israel ads popping up around Los Angeles with billboards of their own. Two billboard trucks featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s image cruised the streets of Hollywood and other parts of Los Angeles during the holiday weekend. The billboards include a quote from King, saying, “Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.” “In 1968, he made a very strong statement about Israel’s right to exist, in security, as a Jewish state,” said Gary Ratner, senior executive of StandWithUs.” [ABC7]

LONGREAD: “Inside the Heads, Hearts and Yarmulkes of Jewish Cops” [Forward]

—Vanity Fair article on the Lauders that we linked to a week ago is now available online [VF]

STARTUP NATION: “Dropbox Dips Into Israel With CloudOn Buy” by Douglas Macamillan:“Acquisitive tech startup Dropbox just gobbled up another young app maker to bolster its European expansion. The cloud-storage provider on Tuesday closed a deal to acquire CloudOn, a developer of mobile productivity tools with an engineering hub in Herzliya, Israel. CloudOn’s more than 30 employees will join Dropbox and the Israeli office will become a base for the company’s “aggressive hiring” in the region, Ilya Fushman, head of product, business and mobile said in an interview.” [WSJ]

BOOK REVIEW: “The Rag Race” by Adam D. Mendelsohn: “Jewish immigrants to both the U.S.and Britain found riches in the secondhand clothes trade.” [WSJ]

SAD DAY FOR DELI: “Full Belly Deli, Portland’s only Jewish delicatessen, closes” [PressHerald] • “Bellcrest Kosher Deli closes in Bellmore” [Newsday]

BIRTHDAYS: Lynn Schusterman turns 76… Eric Holder turns 64…


That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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